Lanesplitter Pizza Employees Protest Working Conditions With Walkout

Categories: Controversy

lanesplitter pizza 240.jpg
Yelp/Jayne M.
On Monday evening, employees at Lanesplitter Pizza's Temescal location walked out in protest of working conditions at the popular East Bay pizzeria chain.

In a press release circulated on Reddit and Facebook, workers added that, in addition to labor conditions, they also walked out to raise awareness about "poor food quality of the company" -- and were met with a standing ovation from customers when they left the restaurant.

According to the exasperated workers, Lanesplitter hasn't treated its employees as well as it claims.

The company, which operates five locations in the East Bay, says it prides itself on creating a nurturing working environment for employees by offering "breaks, paid vacation, a 401k plan, a generous meal plan, employee discounts, and access to health care." However, the employees who orchestrated the walkout say that the company uses "impossible requirements" to keep the majority of workers from accessing the health plan. The workers' press release claims that less than 10% of employees have access to health care, while Lanesplitter says the number is 25%. The company also noted in a statement that one of the employees who walked out on Monday is on the health care plan.

In addition to the debate over health care, workers also cited blatant misogyny by management staff as a catalyst for the walkout. The press release quotes an anonymous employee as saying, "We are leaving tonight because we are no longer willing to take the misogyny, emotional abuse, horrible pay, disrespect, and unpredictable schedule."

In its response, the company explained, "While we don't currently have a female general manager, the most recent vacancy was offered to a woman first, but she chose to stay employed by us in a different position...In addition, we have given ownership in the business to ten employees over the years and six of them are women."

However, Lanesplitter was curiously mum on the subject of its food quality. Perhaps the company sees those claims as the least of their worries, but to us pizza fanatics, it's a top priority. Comments on Reddit allege everything from wilted and bruised lettuce in salads to burnt crusts to cross-contamination of vegan and gluten-free ingredients. You can go sample the fare and judge for yourself -- or read a former kitchen manager's account of Lanesplitter's food prep here.


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9 comments
catkee
catkee

One of the big problems I have with the two employees who walked out on Lanesplitter Pizza and who caused this media ruckus is that they are focusing their anger on a small business that generally treats their employees well, even if they are not perfect. It's cowardliness to try to take down a small business when the larger issue is how the food industry has always treated their employees. When I worked in the food industry I was expected to be okay with no breaks. This is the norm, not the exception. I worked at one pizza place where the pizza cook was fired because he sat down for five minutes during an eight hour shift because he was tired. I worked at another upscale place that only hired, what the male owner considered to be, attractive women. He was open about that practice. Maybe Lanesplitter could improve some things. But let's not jump to murdering them because of that when so many other places behave simply egregiously towards the people they hire. Most pizza places have a huge turnover of staff. Lanesplitter Pizza can boast long term employee retention. I know. I've been a steady customer for that last seven years and some of the wait staff during those seven years has remained the same. I think that is highly unusual and overall speaks very well of Lanesplitter Pizza and the Lanesplitter management team. 

mightylibelle
mightylibelle

Pretty lame "journalism" to frame it as some sort of "walkout" it's 2 lame assed employees that should go start their own shop if things are so bad

genevieve
genevieve

If this is any indication of the Lanesplitter culture and how the managers respond to employee concerns: In response to the walkout flyer an employee had posted on facebook, the Lanesplitter HR person commented, "Oh you guys have it sooooooo bad." 


塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

If they don't like it! Why work there???

masked
masked

Dan and Vic, Would you like to come to http://www.reddit.com/r/oakland and  adress the other questions about Lanesplitter? An AMA (Ask me anything) would be a great way to state your case more point by point, and not by a lukewarm press release. 

Like how you tout breaks as a benefit, while they are mandated by law, the not washing of veggies, the health insurance benefit, scheduling, sourcing of provisions, your company's diversity, how just because labor costs are your highest line item that does not really mean anything.. ( I mean the workers are your means of production, right?)

Lanesplitter
Lanesplitter

Hello, Dan and Vic here from Lanesplitter.

Two (2) employees walked off their shift on Monday evening. 

The next day, we shared the following on our web site:  

Lanesplitter Pizza is a local East Bay company that was founded 15 years ago in Berkeley by Dan & Vic.  With the support of many dedicated staff and the surrounding community, Lanesplitter has grown to five locations with over 100 employees serving many happy guests.  

Last night, two staff members walked out in the middle of their shift without any prior notice or grievance to their managers. At the time, there were more than twenty people working at our restaurants. All remaining staff continued to serve our hungry and thirsty guests.

We pride ourselves in providing the best workplace we can for our employees.  For us that means many things including a diverse staff, breaks, paid vacation, a 401k plan, a generous meal plan, employee discounts and access to health care. The costs of this is large as you can imagine and unusual in the pizza industry.

For clarity, 25% of our staff is on our group health policy (including one of the two employees who walked out) and another 8% are eligible but have declined it for their own reasons.  Our only requirement for insurance is maintaining a schedule of 30 hours per week for six months. We try to get as many people as possible to get on the insurance, not only for the health reasons, but also because any employer knows that having full time employees reduces turnover and training.   

Over the years, we have employed women in every position available at Lanesplitter Pizza.  While we don’t currently have a female General Manager, the most recent management vacancy was offered to a woman first but she chose to stay employed by us in a different position. Three of our past female General Managers currently work for us in a different capacity. None of them were fired or forced to resign. In addition, we have given ownership in the business to ten employees over the years and six of them are women.

Lastly, our payroll as a percentage of sales is currently over 50% of our income, and our employee benefits cost has exceeded our profit every year since 2006.

For the record, it is still the same people running Lanesplitter that have been since the day we opened. We recently sat in a meeting and averaged our collective tenure of the people in attendance and the outcome was 9.7 years per person. We will continue to strive to improve as a business and as an employer of a growing number of people.

We appreciate all of the positive feedback that we have been receiving in response to the unfortunate current situation.  Please do come in and meet our employees for yourself!  They are friendly, outgoing, and are here to provide you with excellent service.  Thank you very much for your feedback and for reading our response.

Thank you for your feedback,

Dan and Vic

Co-Founders

Lanesplitter Pizza

mightylibelle
mightylibelle

Seems like a far more reasonable response than all the bullshit you seem to be posting evrywhere you can think of.

Grow up.

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

@masked Going on Reddit is great if you want to be mobbed by trolls, otherwise not so much.

genevieve
genevieve

@Lanesplitter If this is any indication of the Lanesplitter culture and how the managers respond to employee concerns: In response to the walkout flyer an employee had posted on facebook, the Lanesplitter HR person commented, "Oh you guys have it sooooooo bad." 


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